While exploring various electric pressure cookers on the market, we, as individuals passionate about Food And Meal, found that the Instant Pot has cultivated a dedicated following. Electric pressure cookers have proven invaluable in significantly reducing cooking time for tough meats, dried beans, and robust vegetables. The Best Instant Pot of 2024, however, goes above and beyond, showcasing exceptional versatility by allowing us to prepare a wide array of dishes such as desserts, casseroles, yogurt, perfect risotto, slow-cooked meals, sous vide items, and more. What initially began as a single pressure cooker has transformed into a diverse range of multifunctional models in various sizes. Through our hands-on experience, we tested 13 of these models, evaluating each based on design, ease of use, performance, ease of cleaning, versatility, and value.
How We Tested
In our Lab, Food And Meal conducted extensive testing on 13 models of Instant Pots, evaluating their design, ease of use, performance, ease of cleaning, versatility, and value. The tests involved recording data about the display panels, durability, and inner pot cooking options. We put the Instant Pots to the test by pressure cooking a black bean and rice dish and preparing a barbecue pork shoulder recipe to assess their handling of larger cuts of meat. Both recipes served as comprehensive evaluations of various cooking techniques.
The tested Instant Pots varied in size from three to eight quarts and ranged in price from $80 to $270, with an average price of $161. The overall scores ranged from 2.3 to 5.0, with an average score of 4.2.
What to Look for in an Instant Pot
As enthusiasts of Food And Meal, we cannot overlook the tremendous hype surrounding the Instant Pot since its debut in 2010. Over the years, our experiences with various models and sizes have provided valuable insights into the unique features each version brings to the table. The Instant Pot, being a versatile kitchen appliance, has not only streamlined our cooking processes, saving us considerable time, but has also simplified the cleanup, eliminating the need for separate gadgets like rice cookers or slow cookers.
Unlike older pressure cookers, which may have been intimidating for the average home cook, the Instant Pot has successfully bridged the gap, making pressure cooking accessible and enjoyable for cooks of all levels.
Navigating through the plethora of models and sizes to choose the right Instant Pot for our specific needs has been both an exciting and overwhelming journey. Understanding the distinct features each model offers has been crucial in making informed decisions. Considerations such as available counter space, our frequency of use, and preferences regarding batch sizes have played significant roles in identifying the ideal model for our kitchen. The inclusion of app and Wi-Fi capabilities in newer models has added a tech-savvy dimension to our cooking routine, aligning perfectly with our modern kitchen requirements.
Size, undoubtedly, stands out as a critical consideration when selecting an Instant Pot. Our available counter and storage space, coupled with our intended cooking quantities, have guided us in making choices. The larger 8-quart models have consistently outperformed smaller counterparts in our Lab testing, particularly when tackling various cooking tasks.
The versatility and special features offered by different Instant Pot models have been a distinguishing factor in our evaluations. While some models focus on fundamental functionalities like pressure cooking, slow cooking, and sautéing, others elevate the cooking experience with modes tailored for specific foods or various cooking methods. The wide range of features, from delayed cooking and keep-warm settings to temperature controls, Wi-Fi connectivity, air frying, and sous vide cooking, has provided us with a rich array of options to suit our diverse culinary needs.
Price considerations have been integral to our decision-making process. Instant Pots are available at a wide range of price points, from basic models priced as low as $50 to newer releases with advanced features that can exceed $200. Assessing how much we are willing to invest has been crucial, keeping in mind our intention to use the Instant Pot frequently and leverage its various settings. A higher-priced model has been deemed justifiable for the enhanced value it brings to our cooking routines. However, for those of us just embarking on our Instant Pot journey and cooking infrequently, starting with a basic and more affordable model has proven to be a sensible entry point.
Types of Instant Pots
As devoted practitioners of Food And Meal, we celebrate the Instant Pot for its prowess as a pressure cooker. Utilizing high-pressure cooking, it drastically reduces cooking times and expertly seals in moisture for succulent results. Whether expediting the cooking of dried beans or effortlessly achieving the perfect risotto, the Instant Pot’s steam pressure ensures efficiency and uniformity in every dish.
Distinguishing between pressure cookers and multi-cookers is crucial for Instant Pot enthusiasts. Models like Aura and Aura Pro extend beyond slow cooking, offering versatility with features like yogurt making, searing, roasting, and baking. The stovetop- and oven-safe ceramic-coated pot enhances their utility, with the Aura Pro even accommodating sous vide cooking, making them valuable additions to our kitchen arsenal.
Caring for our Instant Pot is crucial and easy. Dishwasher-friendly components like the sealing ring, lid, and steam rack simplify cleaning. We prioritize safety by ensuring the Instant Pot is unplugged and cooled down before wiping the exterior. Stainless steel pots regain shine with a white vinegar soak. The sealing ring, lasting 18 to 24 months, gets regular attention, with separate rings for sweet and savory cooking.
Enhancing our culinary adventures, carefully chosen Instant Pot accessories cater to our specific model. Springform pans make cake and bread removal stress-free, while a silicone steamer basket adds gentle steaming capabilities. Yogurt cups streamline the yogurt-making process, doubling up for sterilization needs. Regular replacement of sealing rings, purchased in different colors, aligns with our distinction between sweet and savory cooking, ensuring longevity and effectiveness. As ardent practitioners of Food And Meal, these accessories align with our diverse cooking preferences, adding both convenience and versatility to our culinary endeavors.
Best Instant Pots of 2024
We were absolutely enamored with this product, struggling to find any faults with it. The user-friendly controls provided options for pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice making, yogurt making, steaming, sautéing, sterilizing, sous vide, and keeping food warm. The manual setting allowed precise control, and the 25 customizable settings covered various dishes like ribs, soup, beans, poultry, and desserts. The display provided clear updates on the cooking process. The stainless steel pot ensured even heat distribution and locked securely to prevent spinning during sautéing. Our meat turned out perfectly tender, beans were just right, and meat and veggies browned evenly. It’s dishwasher-safe and easy to clean, available in 6-quart and 8-quart sizes. Despite the higher cost, we believe it justifies the price with its superior performance, functionality, and ease of use, making it a worthwhile investment for a versatile kitchen tool.
One of the newest additions to the Instant Pot lineup, the Pro model, introduces five programmable presets, allowing users to input their preferred settings for frequently made recipes. The familiar buttons cover a range of functions like pressure cooking, rice/grain, steam, sauté, slow cook, yogurt, bake, and sous vide. Impressively, it offers 28 customizable programs for specific dishes. The diffuser over the steam release minimizes noise and splatter, while the cooking pot’s side handles facilitate easy removal, carrying, and draining. The stovetop-safe pot comes in a 6-quart size, with the 8-quart option recommended for sous vide cooking due to its larger space for water circulation. Although it didn’t brown pork as well as some other models, it excelled in cooking green beans. The display panel is clear, indicating preheating and warming, with intuitive controls. An optional quick-cool tray is available separately to expedite cooling and pressure reduction. The setup is straightforward, accompanied by clear and detailed instructions, providing valuable insights into preset temperatures and times, turning it into a customizable machine with minimal effort.
Combining air frying with pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing, steaming, sous vide cooking, warming, baking, broiling, and dehydrating, this Instant Pot model stands out as the most versatile among the 13 we tested. Its multifunctionality not only saves space but also offers significant cost and energy savings for cooks of all levels.
The clear and concise display features a time bar, providing a visual representation of the cooking process. Handles on the inner pot secure it in place during sautéing, and three pre-set steam release options are available, along with a quick-cool freeze tray for rapid pressure release. Customizable air fry settings extend up to 450 degrees, turning this appliance into a fully functional air fryer. Whether cleaning by hand or on the top rack of the dishwasher, the machine performed beautifully.
While this appliance comes with a price tag, it proves more cost-effective than purchasing multiple appliances to perform even half of its versatile functions.
The Instant Pot Max stands out as a culinary powerhouse, boasting unparalleled pressure capabilities that elevate your cooking experience. When compared to other Instant Pot models, it takes efficiency to new heights by cooking 10% to 15% faster, ensuring that your meals are not only delicious but also ready in a fraction of the time.
One of its most remarkable features is its ability to handle traditional stovetop pressure-cooker recipes with ease. With the Instant Pot Max, we can indulge in the rich flavors and textures of our favorite classic dishes, all while benefiting from the efficiency and convenience that this model brings to the table.
Beyond its exceptional speed, this model introduces a groundbreaking innovation: hands-free pressure release programming. Imagine being able to set your Instant Pot Max to automatically release pressure, freeing you from the task of manual intervention. This hands-free approach not only adds an extra layer of convenience to our cooking routine but also ensures safety by minimizing the need for direct interaction with the appliance.
Whether you’re a seasoned chef looking to explore complex recipes or a busy individual seeking a reliable kitchen companion, the Instant Pot Max is designed to meet and exceed your culinary expectations. Its combination of speed, power, and programmable features opens up a world of possibilities, allowing Food And Meal to create mouthwatering meals with minimal effort. Embrace the future of cooking with the Instant Pot Max, where innovation and efficiency converge to redefine your kitchen experience.
Venturing into the realm of cutting-edge culinary technology, the latest Instant Pot model emerges as a true powerhouse, boasting an extensive array of functions that outshine every other Instant Pot currently available on the market. Among its many features, a standout innovation is the incorporation of air-frying capabilities, adding a new dimension to our kitchen at Food And Meal.
Yet, it’s the introduction of the game-changing Ultimate Lid that truly defines this Instant Pot model. Aptly named “ultimate,” this lid redefines convenience and efficiency for us. What sets it apart from the lids on other Instant Pot models is its dual functionality – a singular lid that seamlessly transitions between the worlds of pressure-cooking and air-frying. This marks a departure from the conventional setup, where separate lids were required for distinct cooking methods.
The versatility offered by the Ultimate Lid opens up a world of possibilities for culinary enthusiasts like us. We can effortlessly switch from pressure-cooking savory stews to air-frying crispy delights, all with the same lid. This streamlined approach not only enhances our cooking experience but also simplifies our kitchen setup, eliminating the need for multiple accessories.
The Ultimate Lid isn’t just a technological marvel; it’s a practical solution for those who, like us at Food And Meal, appreciate efficiency in the kitchen. The seamless integration of pressure-cooking and air-frying capabilities under one lid reflects a thoughtful design that caters to our diverse needs as modern cooks. Whether we’re aiming for convenience, versatility, or a combination of both, the Ultimate Lid of this Instant Pot model is a game-changer that elevates our culinary prowess to new heights. It’s not just a lid; it’s the key to unlocking a world of culinary possibilities in the comfort of our own kitchen.
If we have a penchant for cutting-edge technology that enhances convenience in every aspect, the Instant Pot Pro Plus is a must-have. This fully connected multi-cooker takes innovation to the next level, allowing wireless control through a compatible smartphone app. By accessing a comprehensive catalog of over 800 recipes, we can effortlessly choose our desired dish and follow on-screen prompts that guide us through the entire cooking process from start to finish. The integration of smart technology not only simplifies our cooking experience but also adds a layer of convenience to our culinary endeavors.
What sets the Instant Pot Pro Plus apart is not just its smart capabilities but also the quality of its components. The inner pot included in this model surpasses the standard Instant Pot Duo. It is stovetop-safe and induction-compatible, providing versatility in our cooking options. Additionally, the inner pot is dishwasher-safe, ensuring a swift and easy cleanup process. This thoughtful design extends to the pressure cooking rack and pressure-cooking lid, both of which are also dishwasher-safe, saving us time and effort.
Another noteworthy feature of the Instant Pot Pro Plus is the ability to release steam directly through the app. Moreover, we have the flexibility to program a quick or delayed steam release at the conclusion of a cooking program, giving us precise control over the cooking process even when we’re not physically present in the kitchen.
In essence, the Instant Pot Pro Plus marries advanced technology with practical design elements, offering a seamless and connected cooking experience. Whether we’re tech enthusiasts or simply individuals who appreciate efficiency in the kitchen, this multi-cooker is a game-changer, bringing a new level of control and convenience to our culinary adventures at Food And Meal.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) – Best Instant Pots of 2024
Q: What is an Instant Pot, and how does it differ from a traditional pressure cooker?
A: An Instant Pot is a multi-functional electric pressure cooker that combines several kitchen appliances into one. It can function as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, and more. The key difference lies in its versatility and convenience.
Q: How do I choose the best Instant Pot model for my needs?
A: Consider your cooking requirements and the size of your household. Instant Pot models vary in capacity, features, and settings. Look for one that aligns with your preferred cooking methods and the number of people you’ll be serving.
Q: Are Instant Pots safe to use, especially for pressure cooking?
A: Yes, Instant Pots are designed with safety features, including lid-locking mechanisms and pressure release valves. Follow the user manual instructions, and Instant Pots are generally considered safe for home use.
Q: Can I cook a variety of dishes in an Instant Pot?
A: Absolutely. Instant Pots are versatile and can cook a wide range of dishes, including soups, stews, roasts, rice, yogurt, and even desserts. Many models come with pre-programmed settings for specific recipes.
Q: What size Instant Pot should I get for a family of [X] people?
A: For a family, an 6 or 8-quart Instant Pot is typically suitable. The larger size allows you to prepare larger quantities of food. Consider the number of servings you need for your family size.
Q: Are Instant Pots easy to clean?
A: Yes, Instant Pots are generally easy to clean. Most parts are dishwasher safe, and the stainless steel inner pot is often removable for convenient handwashing.
Q: Can I use Instant Pot accessories with any model?
A: Many Instant Pot accessories are designed to be compatible with various models. However, it’s advisable to check compatibility based on the specific Instant Pot model you own.
Q: Do Instant Pots come with a warranty?
A: Yes, Instant Pots typically come with a warranty, which can vary between models. Check the warranty information provided by the manufacturer for specific details.
Q: Can I use Instant Pots for canning?
A: Not all Instant Pot models are suitable for canning. If canning is a priority, choose a model specifically labeled as safe for pressure canning and follow USDA guidelines for safe canning practices.
Q: Are there smart Instant Pot models with connectivity features?
A: Yes, some Instant Pot models come with smart features and connectivity, allowing you to control and monitor the cooking process through a mobile app. These features may include recipe sharing, remote control, and customization.
Q: Are there budget-friendly Instant Pot options available?
A: Yes, there are budget-friendly Instant Pot models that offer essential features without the extra bells and whistles. Consider your cooking needs and choose a model that fits your budget.
Q: Can I cook frozen ingredients directly in an Instant Pot?
A: Yes, many Instant Pot recipes allow for cooking frozen ingredients. The Instant Pot’s pressure cooking function can handle frozen foods, but you may need to adjust cooking times accordingly.
Before making a purchase, review product specifications, read customer reviews, and consider the features that matter most to you. The best Instant Pot for you depends on your specific cooking preferences and household requirements.